Anniversary Post: The Eternal Jew

Der ewige JudeOn this day in 1937, Der ewige Jude opened in the Library of the German Museum in Munich. In case it isn’t clear, it was an art exhibit with the English title, “The Eternal Jew.” It was a display of “degenerate art.” That was basically art that Hitler didn’t like. You know: modern art. It was all a Jewish conspiracy. So much was. But the Nazis loved these “degenerate art” exhibits. It reminds me of people who love to look at pornography because they think it should be abolished. I’m sure the Germans quite liked the art.

Interesting thing about the Nazi approach to art was that they loved Romantic stuff. This is, interestingly, the same belief of Ayn Rand and the Objectivists. It doesn’t really matter where you scratch at that philosophy, it all comes out the same: fascist. I know: they don’t hate the Jews. But the point of fascism isn’t to hate any particular group; it is just to separate the world into the good and the evil. The Nazis had the good Aryans and the evil Jews and Gypsies. The Objectivists separate the world into the good industrialists and the evil moochers. I don’t think there is any question but that if the Objectivists got power, they would round up all the poor, put them in work camps, and eventually murder and incinerate them. Did I mention that Paul Ryan is an Objectivist?

But the good thing about all those “degenerate art” exhibits is that it did protect the art for a time. And it exposed people to the art. Ideology is rubbish. If people see art that works, they know it. I’m sure a lot of people looked at that stuff and thought, “Oh, that’s rather nice.” Of course, I’m sure there was lots of explicitly antisemitic art as well. The image above is a poster for the exhibit. I don’t think it needs much explanation.

14 thoughts on “Anniversary Post: The Eternal Jew

  1. I sometimes get too over-the-top with pop-culture references, but here’s one I can’t imagine anyone not adoring: “La Ronde.” It’s a Max Ophuls movie of an old play in short acts. Each act has one character who participates in the next act. A dates B, B dates C, C dates D, and so on.

    The play was considered hugely immoral by the Nazis and an example of Jewish perversion. It’s really quite sweet and sad and about how complicated human affections are. I never got into Ophuls the way some film geeks did, but I don’t see how anyone can’t love “La Ronde,” it’s so great.

    • Nazism was all about hatred and some simplistic notion of “strength” — just like some other political party I can think of.

  2. I don’t think they would round up the poor-who would do the cleaning, gardening and obsequious waiting on the Objectivists?

      • But would the lessor industrialists be just as good at the swarmy sucking up?

        Have you ever heard of the Bioshock games? There is a book based on them called Rapture and it basically imagines how a society like what the Objectivists would want plays out. And of course, there is some law and order but no courts.

        • No. That would be interesting. I’ve long thought that a dystopian sequel to Atlas Shrugged would be great. But given that the Objectivists are not, in fact, Romantics, but authoritarians, I think it would work out fine. Authoritarians are good at leading and following. Again: check out John Dean’s Conservatives Without Conscience.

          • I would say so, the thing about the book is that the leader of the society Andrew Ryan does try to stay as true as possible to his vision of utopia and lets people do pretty much whatever they want when they want as long as it does not not involve violence. So not allowed to beat someone to death but sure, you can swindle them out of their business.

            Since the novel (and games) takes place underwater and Ryan has prohibited anyone from leaving once they arrive, there is a huge growing resentful population of former workers who have no work and access to drugs with no release valve. So of course it ends in tears and bloodshed.

            The book is not well written but the ideas are good.

  3. There’s a blog called Daylight Atheism, Patheos.com atheist channel, that publishes an Atlas Shrugged commentary every Friday. I was of the Randian persuasion back in high school, an angry teenager who knew nothing about life, had never had a job or a girlfriend. So I thought it was great. Re reading it now, hoofta. The sex stuff is especially bizarre. But so much of it just doesn’t make sense, even on it’s own terms. That’s what is so great about the blog posts, putting this into sharp relief.

    • What does the blog talk about? Is it analysis? When I go back to Rand, I find I just can’t take her style. Even when I was a libertarian and generally agreed with her, I found her writing dull. And her characters show a total lack of understanding of humanity. She’s perhaps the greatest example of an ideas oriented writer. That would be fine if she were profound. But she’s not. I remember Allan Bloom referring to her as “sub-Nietzschean.” That’s about it. And of course, Rand always claimed she owed nothing to Nietzsche. But all her work was simply the most facile rendering of Nietzsche.

    • I was much the same way in high school, and I adored “The Fountainhead,” nobody appreciates my genius!

      (Rand is kind of a mad scientist. “Oh, they laughed at my proposal to mix goldfish with cars to create aquarium-sized personal submarines. Now they will pay for ignoring my vision! HAHAHAHAHAHA!”)

      I think if I’d read “Atlas Shrugged” I would have fallen out of love with Rand much more quickly. As it was, a girl I liked read “The Fountainhead” and pointed out how creepy the sex scenes were, so I agreed with her.

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